In my Event Coordinator role at The Thoroughbred Center many times I “hold their hands” guiding couples through the planning process by asking questions, offering suggestions, helping develop ideas and figuring out logistics. Having been involved with over 400 weddings gives you quite a bit of insight and experience. A Do-It-Yourself, or D.I.Y., wedding can be a dream or a disaster depending on the priorities you establish, how you use your own strengths or compensate for your weaknesses and keeping your expectations realistic.
Many couples that I encounter consider themselves to be a D.I.Y. bride. Some simply want to create their own centerpieces while others forego the use of a wedding planner entirely. Accessible online planning tools, such as WeddingWire, The Knot and Pinterest, further encourage couples to take control over the planning and implementation of their weddings.
There are several reasons couples may want to do more themselves, but the most common reason is their budget. Contemporary couples are looking for ways to get a high-end wedding for a low-end price tag. According to the latest Annual Couples Survey conducted by The Knot, the average cost of a wedding in 2016 was $35,329. Data from the 2015 WeddingWire Newlywed Report shows that 50% of couples pay for the wedding themselves. Considering the median household income in Kentucky is $42,958 a year, it’s no wonder couples are looking for ways to save money!
What can you do to save money while not compromising what matters to you? It is of the utmost importance to establish priorities. Generally speaking everyone has one thing where there is no room for compromise. You will know what that thing is because it is the only thing where the money does not matter. It may be the venue, the wedding dress, the photography, the catering, the cake or the band. Whatever it is, start with that and work your remaining budget around it. Pay to have that one thing handled by a qualified professional to help ensure that what matters the most turns out exactly how you want it. After you have determined the key component of your wedding be prepared to negotiate or compromise on the lesser important aspects to keep yourself on budget.
What To-Do or Not-To-Do
We all have talents. The key to being successful is to choose tasks that best suit your own skill set. If you have a creative touch then perhaps you craft your own centerpieces. Likewise, if you have stellar organizational skills then handle your own scheduling or manage your own budget. Using your natural talents not only helps alleviate some costs but can also make your wedding planning fun!
Regardless of how crafty or organized you are, you will still need help. Some things are merely logistics: You cannot be in two places at once. Delegate tasks to those you hire or to family and friends you trust to accomplish more simultaneously. Consider choosing a singular location for both your wedding ceremony and reception. This simplifies the set-up and eliminates the need for transportation from ceremony to reception. You can also utilize free services like those offered at Simply Love Studio to help you get organized before the big day.
Strongly consider a “Month-of” Coordinator. This is a type of wedding coordinator that is with you during rehearsal and the day of. Even if you plan everything up until the day of your wedding it is very important for you to get the chance to enjoy all your hard work. A Coordinator will allow you to relax, forget about the to-do list and soak in so many special moments.
Keep Your Expectations Realistic
The last bit of advice I have is to keep your expectations in check. Understand that when it comes to the decisions you make you have three options: Good, Fast, and Inexpensive. You may only pick two. If you want “Good” and “Inexpensive” you’ll need to plan a longer engagement to save more money and to find the best deals. If you want “Good” and “Fast” it will be more expensive. If you want “Fast” and “Inexpensive” the results will not be “Good” quality.
Keeping your expectations realistic, establishing your priorities according to importance, and capitalizing on your strengths or delegating your weaknesses will allow your D.I.Y. wedding to be a dream and not a disaster. We, as wedding professionals, are here to assist you and make your day memorable. We want you to be happy with your choices and enjoy your wedding. Remember if at the end of the day you are married and smiling, then mission accomplished.
Amy Jackson, Event & Tour Coordinator
(Header Photo: On A Whim Photography, Headshot: Wes Brown Photography)